SWM: UCSB’s Wilson retiring after 40th season

UCSB's Gregg Wilson

UCSB’s Gregg Wilson

Legendary swimming coach Gregg Wilson is entering his 40th year at UC Santa Barbara and he has decided it will be his final campaign. Wilson announced his retirement to a group of his former swimmers and parents on Friday night.

“How lucky I have been,” Wilson said. “We have a world class university, in a world class location and I’ve coached world class student-athletes. At times the 40 years seemed so long, but in retrospect it seems so short.”

“Gregg has been such a big part of UCSB athletics and touched the lives of so many student-athletes and fellow coaches over the years we marvel at all of his accomplishments,” said UCSB Director of Athletics John McCutcheon. “As we enjoy his final season our goal is to recognize his incredible contributions to the campus and the sport of swimming appropriately.”

Wilson embarked on his Gaucho journey in 1975-76 when he assumed the reins of the men’s program. In 1985, after spending one year at his alma mater Cal, he took control of the women’s program as well. What followed was a period of unprecedented success for both programs.

He coached his UCSB men’s team to the Big West Conference title in 1979, beginning a run of 23 consecutive championships for the Gauchos, all but one coming with him at the helm of the program. He also guided the team to four other league crowns for a total of 26. In 1985, Wilson coached the women’s team to the first of 13 championships over a 25-year stretch, giving him 36 total Big West titles. In his illustrious career, he was named Big West Coach of the Year 27 times and Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Coach of the Year twice.

In addition to the 39 team championships that Wilson’s squads won, he coached 427 individuals and relay teams to conference championships, 21 of his swimmers earned either Big West Conference or Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Swimmer of the Year Honors and five were named Freshman of the Year. On the national level, Wilson guided 72 swimmers to All-American status, while on the international stage he coached three Olympians, including Team USA gold medalists Richard Schroeder and Jason Lezak.

Much more difficult to measure than the All-Americans, conference titles and coach of the year honors are the scores of athletes that were influenced by Wilson during his four decades in coaching. His final duties as a swimming coach will be guiding his athletes at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials.

Wilson’s retirement celebration will be held in October of 2016 and the University has set-up the Gregg and Carol Wilson Swimming Enhancement Fund to supplement the swimming program’s operational budget.